When my first child was born, we were living in New York City and eating out almost as often as we stayed in. Although I loved to cook, there were just so many restaurants out there that were too appealing to ignore. Bella’s birth did not slow us down in the least. We had a lovely French meal on the way to the hospital for my induction, and were back out for a big Asian dinner at Ruby Foo’s a few days after coming home from the hospital. Everything was walking distance, and the loud restaurant noise just helped her sleep. As a first time mom, I was blissfully oblivious to the invisible germs swirling all around my tiny newborn.
Although I’ve become more cautious about exposing newborns to unseen germs, our family’s love of dining out has not diminished. My kids can name their favorite restaurant without hesitation (Fogo de Chao Churrascaria in Chicago) and follow it up with their favorites in other locations (Sushi House in Oak Park, Chocolate by the Bald Man in NYC, Duck Donutsin North Carolina, and any street crepe vendor in Paris). We are a family of foodies and eating out is our sport. If medals were awarded in dining out, we would be serious contenders. You should see the way our posse attacks the bloody slivers of meat cut by the gauchos at a Brazilian steakhouse.
When Sophie was born, weighing in a a scant five pounds, we spent a few weeks exploring the pick up and delivery options in the Oak Park area. We ventured out a few times, quick clandestine affairs where either Steve or myself ended up swaying to keep her quiet while rushing the kids to finish. There was no joy to these dining out expeditions, just pure post-partum stress. Occasionally we would hire a sitter and enjoy an evening out as a family without Sophie, but although we were more able to focus on the food, we all missed our little Sophie love and felt incomplete.
Then on Sunday, thanks to the beginning of a clear nap schedule, we broke free from our cocoon and had an amazing family dinner in Chinatown. Our table was filled with thrilling dishes: delicate soup dumplings, crispy pork potstickers, fluffy fried rice, and steaming bowls of broth filled with hand tossed noodles. A noodle chef stood right behind us, creating long strands of noodles from big hunks of dough. We ate, hopping from dish to dish, passing each other choice bites to taste. And througout the entire meal, Sophie sat happily on Steve’s lap, beaming at her siblings and bestowing easy smiles on the parade of kitchen workers who came to tickle her feet.
We walked out of the restaurant into an alley decorated for the Chinese New Year, full and happy. Table for six please! The foodie family is now back in action.
Our delicious Chinese meal was eaten at:
Hing Kee Restaurant
2140 S Archer Ave
(between Wentworth Ave & 21st St)
Chicago, IL 60616